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Thermostats: Can Robots Keep Our Homes Comfortable?

Thermostats: Can Robots Keep Our Homes Comfortable?

Fall is coming to the DC region and the weather can be crazy — hot one day, cold the next, back and forth — until winter finally blasts its way in. If this seesaw weather causes you to change the mode on your thermostat repeatedly from heating to cooling, you’re not alone.

We have a solution – install the appropriate thermostat for your home and know how to set it.  We regularly install thermostats in our clients’ houses as part of remodels and have shown homeowners how to save significant money on their utility bills.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 15% on your energy bill just by installing the right thermostat and using it properly to control the temperature in your house. This is based on a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours or more.

However, says the agency, only about a third of homes in the US have programmable thermostats (more about this below), and a big percentage of homeowners don’t know how to set them.  But in our experience, if you can learn to make calls on your cellphone, you can learn how to set your thermostat.

Thermostats come in three types:

  • Manual: The temperature setting stays constant until you change the setting by hand. If you have an older home with one of these, we highly recommend upgrading it. A more advanced unit will quickly pay for itself.
  • Programmable: These feature a touch-pad where you can set the thermostat to automatically change several times throughout the day or week or for longer periods when you are on vacation. They offer great features — multiple setback settings, overrides, and even adjustments for daylight savings time. You should avoid using the unit’s “temperature hold” mode, which functionally transforms the programmable thermostat into a manual thermostat.
  • Smart thermostats: These new devices are, in fact, small robots! They are smart enough to “learn” your living habits (e.g., waking and sleeping times) and can even detect whether your house is occupied to set the temperature to your preferred comfort levels. Also, they enable you to change settings remotely via any internet-enabled device. If for example, you want to lower your AC temperature when you arrive from vacation, you can do it from your smartphone when you land at your home airport. Smart thermostats tend to be relatively pricey but, like programmable models, they pay for themselves over time. Utility companies are especially interested in the future of these smart devices and eventually may want to “communicate” with them to regulate energy consumption during peak usage times.

Regardless of the type you choose, in order to operate effectively, a thermostat must be mounted on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, portable heaters, fans, doors and windows. Locate it where there is plenty of natural room air movement – warm air rising and cool air sinking.  Don’t place large pieces of furniture near the thermostat if it will block natural air movement.

We are the home experts; clients count on us to be their advisors on all house-related matters.  Call the FOXCRAFT team if you have questions about your thermostat, the energy efficiency of your home or, of course, if you are thinking about remodeling to make your home better suit your lifestyle.

Questions about the new thermostat technology?  Please give us a call.

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